Labor Board Pick Litigated Reagan’s ‘Watershed’ Air Traffic Case


Publish Date:
September 19, 2017
Bloomberg - BNA
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President Donald Trump’s nominee for the top attorney job at the NLRB argued against a now-defunct air traffic controllers union in a case that critics consider a key event contributing to decades of decline in union membership and wage stagnation.

Peter Robb was nominated Sept. 15 by the White House to serve as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Robb was the lead attorney in a controversial case that resulted in the firing of thousands of striking workers and the decertification of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. That experience could raise a red flag for unions and Democrats already concerned about what the labor board will do when it eventually gets a Republican majority and a GOP lawyer in the general counsel position.

William Gould (D), a former labor board chairman and current Stanford Law professor, called the PATCO case “a landmark and a great symbol for legal attacks on unions.”

“It may be that Trump is trying to send that message—of a deeply hostile stance towards unions—through this appointment,” Gould said. “That’s not particularly surprising, all of Trump’s appointments in this area have been very anti-union in one sense or another.”

Gould agreed that Robb’s “association with this kind of symbolic case” and participation in other efforts against unions makes the appointment different.

“I think a management lawyer who is involved with landmark cases that have been used to promote the decline of unions is antithetical to what we would want,” Gould said. “After all the statute’s purpose is to promote freedom of association and collective bargaining, it seems that his record is at odds with that policy.”

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